99.9% of our genes are identical. The seemingly small remainder of 0.1% of genes accounts for the magic behind all human genetic variation. Are you athletic? Where are your ancestors from? Which diseases do you have a higher risk of contracting? What if we told you, you can get your answers just by getting your genes sequenced with a DNA test? (If you have decided to take a DNA test, simply wondering, “is CircleDNA good?”, or how are some other tests doing, you will get all the answers soon.)
There are plenty of DNA tests out there, but which one is the best one? To answer this question, a DNA test comparison experiment was recently conducted very thoroughly by Matt Baker. He holds a PhD in Education and Religion, is a former teacher, and owner of the YouTube channel “UsefulCharts”.
You might be wondering, Which DNA test should I take? There are even DNA tests that give you comprehensive, personalized health reports – not just ancestry reports. It’s important to note that a DNA test can tell you a lot more information than just ancestry information.
To nail down an answer to this question, Matt Baker took 5 different DNA tests from reputable DNA testing kit companies. A detailed DNA test comparison was his goal and he filmed a Youtube video so he could offer his viewers an honest, first-hand account of each DNA testing kit.
“In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive some of these DNA tests for free, for review purposes. However, I have kept an open mind and remained objective, while reviewing each of the 5 DNA tests honestly.” – MattB
How to Do a DNA test?
Before diving into DNA test comparisons, here is how to do a DNA test. Generally speaking, when it comes to actually do a DNA test, there are typically two methods of collection. Some companies have kits that provide you with a swab that you simply rub against the inside of your cheek, and then you place that swab in a vial of liquid. Other companies have kits that require you to spit a bunch of times into a vial.
The rules are quite simple: Avoid eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes before you take the DNA test. This also means you shouldn’t have brushed your teeth in the last 30 minutes.
- After you collect your DNA sample, the process is pretty much the same for each company’s kit after this. You have to register your sample using the unique number on your vial. (Instructions on how to do this are included in your kit.) This is extremely important because if you skip this step, the company won’t know which DNA sample is yours, so do not skip this step.
- After registering your kit, the vial containing your sample must be placed with a special sealable bag that comes with the kit. There is a special piece of paper in the provided bag, which you must not remove since it helps keep your sample fresh.
- Once you send your DNA sample back to the company, you can expect to wait up to one month for your results. At least a few weeks.
The 5 DNA testing kits Matt has reviewed are:
$189 – $629 USD
- Extensive Health Reports
- Some Genealogical Ancestry
Matt Baker starts us off with a review of CircleDNA. He begins, “Up first is CircleDNA, which in US dollars goes for anywhere from $189 – $629. This price gap depends on whether or not you get the premium DNA testing kit that provides you with the most extensive information about yourself. You can really get to know yourself better with CircleDNA. Now, CircleDNA is the most expensive kit of the 5 I’m reviewing, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
CircleDNA is primarily focused on preventative health and general wellness and health-related information. In this regard, CircleDNA definitely gives you the most detailed personal health report of any DNA kit I’ve tried. In fact, they market themselves as “The world’s most comprehensive DNA test”.
None of the other companies in my DNA test comparison held a candle to CircleDNA’s health and wellness reports.
If you go to https://circledna.com/ and use my discount code MATTB33, you can get 33% off your CircleDNA kit.
Eventually, they’ll analyze your sample and provide you with reports. 20 personalized reports in over 500 categories. This will be provided to you on the CircleDNA app. I took the premium CircleDNA test, so I received a lot of information about myself to go through.”
“The world’s most comprehensive DNA test” – CircleDNA
Matt’s CircleDNA Results
“Let’s go over my results from CircleDNA,” Says Matt. “ I can’t share everything, because CircleDNA provides over 500 reports in 20 categories. They checked my health risk for 36 hereditary cancers, as well as 79 other health conditions. Fortunately, I am not at an elevated risk genetically for any cancers. However, I did learn that I’m at a higher risk of developing Type-2 diabetes.
I already knew that diabetes runs in my family, so this report did not really surprise me. However, it reminded me that I should probably cut back on the sweets.
Interestingly, the CircleDNA report did not predict that I was at a higher risk for ulcerative colitis, which is a disease I did in fact have in my 20s. This just goes to show that your genetics – what’s written in your DNA – is not your destiny or your life sentence. Most health conditions that humans end up with are actually a result of not just their genes, but also their environment, and their lifestyle choices.
While discovering more about our genetics can help us live healthier lives to some degree, a DNA test is not a replacement for common sense lifestyle choices that are healthier and preventative.
CircleDNA was also tested to see whether or not I was a carrier for 163 (mostly rare) hereditary conditions. These are often single genes that may end up causing the development of a disease in oneself or one’s children. From this report, I learned that I’m a carrier for a gene that can be particularly dangerous for those who are heavy smokers. Fortunately, I’ve never been a smoker, nor have either of my kids. But it is something I do plan to mention to my doctor just in case, and if I was a smoker, this report would have me second-guessing my lifestyle choices.
Another neat report that CircleDNA gives relates to drug responses. It covers 103 FDA-approved drugs. It tells you which drugs may not work as well on you personally, based on your genetics.
Some more fun and interesting things I learned in my CircleDNA report included:
- I might have a higher than usual sensitivity to taste.
- I’m a morning person (this is true.)
- I need more Vitamin D (which I was unaware of, but it’s good to know.)
- I’m more likely to have a low wrinkle formation (I’ll age well?)
- I’m an introvert (this is very true.)
- I might be extra sensitive to pesticides.
- I have blue eyes
- I’m not likely to be super muscular (true.)
- I’m not likely to be at risk for alcohol addiction (it’s true that I don’t tend towards addiction.)
- I’m not especially gifted at music (this is true.)
- I have a high IQ (I know I’m very smart, but my IQ report on CircleDNA said I’m “gifted”.)
The above is just a small sampling of the hundreds of fun facts the CircleDNA test told me about myself.
Finally, there was an ancestry report included that was very basic.
As I said, CircleDNA is primarily focused on health, not ancestry. Yes, their ancestry report is basic, but some people might argue that the health-related reports are more important, anyway.
The other 4 DNA testing kits I’m reviewing, however, are more focused on genealogy and will likely have more information about ancestry. Don’t expect any of the next DNA tests covered in this DNA test comparison to having the health reports CircleDNA includes in their test.”
$80 – $360 USD
- Extensive Genealogical Ancestry Report
“Like CircleDNA, FamilyTreeDNA also uses the more convenient swab method of sample collection,” says Matt. “FamilyTreeDNA costs anywhere from $80 – $360. At first, $80 for a basic test seems quite cheap, but that’s because they separate out their more detailed reports, which cost extra.
There’s Autosomal DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Y-Chromosome DNA.
Autosomal DNA is the DNA you’re probably most familiar with. It’s the DNA that is inherited from both your parents. This is your DNA that is approximately 50% from your mother, and 50% from your father. So, testing your autosomal DNA gives you information about your entire family tree as a whole. So, for example, you probably have 16 great-grandparents, each of whom contributed (on average) about 6% of your DNA. Now, those exact percentages can actually be quite different for everyone, which is why a DNA test comes in handy. For many people, like myself, their ancestors came from a variety of different places. So, an autosomal DNA test can give you an approximate breakdown of where those ancestors came from.
My ancestry report from FamilyTreeDNA was more detailed than the one from CircleDNA. However, once again, the results seem a bit off. Way more Eastern European than I would expect, which just goes to show, these composition estimates are just that. They’re just estimates and each company comes up with their estimates in slightly different ways.
There’s another thing an autosomal DNA can do, which FamilyTreeDNA provides, but CircleDNA does not provide. This is to provide you with relative matches. This report shows you other people who have taken the same DNA test who share a high percentage of the same DNA as you. IT ranks them according to the closeness of the relationship. Those who were adopted and share a high percentage of DNA with others in the report, can actually reach out to those people and try to figure out how you’re related to them.
With this DNA test, you’re not automatically given a family tree. You’re given a list of potential relatives (if they’ve also taken the test and are therefore in the system) but it’s up to you to do the research and make up your family tree yourself.
Now we’ll move on to explain the second type of DNA, which is Mitochondrial DNA. Inside every cell in your body are cell parts called mitochondria. Those mitochondria contain DNA that is totally different from your main DNA, which is stored in the nucleus. It’s different because 100% of that DNA comes from your mother. In other words, your mitochondria is the same as your mother’s mitochondria, which is the same as her mother’s mitochondria, and so on. So a Mitochondrial DNA test can tell you information only about a very small section of your family tree (your matrilineal line). But unlike an autosomal test, it can tell you information that goes back much farther in history. I’m talking like tens of thousands of years far back. This is because mitochondrial DNA basically never changes unless there’s a case of a rare mutation. Major mutations only occur every few thousand years. This means that if person A has a certain mutation, and person B has the exact same mutation, we know they share the same matrilineal line. These lines are called haplogroups and are labelled with alphabetic codes. My haplogroup is called “U” and FamilyTreeDNA provides me with a map that shows me where my line broke off from the main branch.
Finally, the third type of DNA is Y-DNA. Now, Y-DNA is kind of the opposite of mitochondrial DNA in that it only gives you information about your father, and your father’s father, et cetera. This test is only available to males. You might remember from biology class that generally speaking, females have XX chromosomes, and males have XY chromosomes. This is because it’s the presence of a Y chromosome that determines if someone is male. That Y chromosome only ever comes from one’s father. Hence, like mitochondrial DNA, it never changes, except for rare mutations. So, FamilyTreeDNA gave me a haplogroup map for my Y-DNA as well. In my case, I belong to the group R-M343, also known as R1b, which happens to be the most common haplogroup in Europe. This haplogroup represents well over 50% of men in Europe.
If you’re a female who wants to learn more about her patrilineal line, you’d have to get your father, brother or paternal uncle to do the FamilyTreeDNA test, too, because only males have Y-DNA.
The $80 (lowest) cost of FamilyTreeDNA is for Autosomal DNA results only. Mitochondrial $160 extra. Y-DNA is $120 extra. So, that’s $360 in total if you want all three types of DNA results. This is more expensive than the remaining three DNA testing companies I’m going to review, but again, you get what you pay for. What sets FamilyTreeDNA apart is that it gives you way more information on the various mutations in your mitochondrial and Y-DNA. And to be honest, this is where it got way over my head because I’m not an expert when it comes to genetics.
FamilyTreeDNA, therefore, is a DNA test I would recommend primarily to those who possess knowledge at the expert level of genetic genealogy.”
How to Swab
$100 – $200 USD
- Genealogical Ancestry
- Some Health
“The third DNA test I took was 23andMe,” says Matt. “This test is unique in that it offers both genealogy and health reports. If all you want is the genealogy information, it’s only $100 USD. If you want both genealogy and health reports, it’s $200.
With 23andMe, you have to spit into a tube. On the genealogy side, it’s pretty similar to FamilyTreeDNA. 23andMe offers an ethnicity report (its best estimate) along with a list of potential relatives.
One thing to note about 23andMe, however, is that they do give you your haplogroup results at no extra charge. Since I did a whole video on my 23andMe ancestry results back in 2019 when I received them, I won’t go into any more detail about that when it comes to 23andMe.
I will, however, discuss 23andMe’s health results a bit, since my 2019 video review didn’t really touch on the health report side of things.
23andMe does not offer any health reports as comprehensive as what CircleDNA offers. 23andMe does check for several dozen genetic diseases and provides you with a bunch of random and cool information such as what kind of earwax you have, and whether or not mosquitoes love biting you. Since 23andMe is always updating their research, you do tend to get new reports from them as time goes on.”
Genealogical Ancestry Report
“Ancestry.com uses the spit method, as just like 23andMe, they don’t provide a swab collection method,” Matt states. “Similar to 23andME, Ancestry’s basic DNA test costs $100. This test is primarily about your ancestry information.
No health information or information aside from ancestry will be provided with this DNA test. It does not give you your haplogroup information, either.
This DNA test does give you a breakdown of where your ancestors came from. This is where Ancestry is a company that really stands out because its ethnicity report is much more detailed. This is primarily because of all the DNA companies, they have the largest database of users, particularly when it comes to North Americans. So, for me, they broke down my European ethnicities into finer categories. They also are able to predict which North American settler communities my ancestors belonged to. From what I know of my family tree, Ancestry.com seems to have this information spot on. I know that most of my ancestors came from Germany, England, and Ireland and settled in Nova Scotia. And this is what my Ancestry.com results showed. So, because Ancestry DNA is basing their results on such a large database of people who, like me, live in North America, I’d lean towards saying that these particular ethnicity results are probably the most accurate of the 5 tests I’ve taken.
When it comes to relative matches, Ancestry again stands out, because of its large database. So if your primary goal with DNA tests is to find relatives, and you’re from North America, then Ancestry is probably the best test to start with.
However, if you do any of these DNA tests, be prepared for the possibility of uncovering some surprises. There are numerous stories of people discovering that their father wasn’t really their father, or that they have a half-sibling they did not know about. You might think this would never happen to you, but that’s what other people thought, too. I actually discovered a first cousin I knew nothing about. I never knew she existed. It turns out, she’s very kind and had a similar health problem to me. Meeting her online was pretty cool.
Ancestry.com’s website is specifically designed for helping you build your family tree and fill in gaps. There’s this very easy-to-use interface to do this. Plus, it offers you access to millions of online records. Of course, if you want access to all those records, you do have to pay for a monthly membership which costs around $25 per month.”
- Genealogical Ancestry Report
“The final DNA test I took and reviewed is MyHeritage,” Matt explains. “This one luckily uses the swab method, and its base price is $80 for a basic test. MyHeritage is a lot like Ancestry. However, at the price point of $80, they hold the distinction of being the least expensive test on the market. Sometimes they even have sales where it’s even cheaper.
Similar to my Ancestry results, MyHeritage showed me that my ancestors mostly came from Germany, England and Ireland, and showed me the settler communities my ancestors were part of. This information was correct. I also received a list of relative matches to find relatives, and the ability to build my family tree using their website. Similar to Ancestry, if you want full access to all of their online records, there’s an option to purchase a monthly membership.
There’s one more difference I should point out between MyHeritage and Ancestry, aside from the fact that MyHeritage is a bit cheaper. This main difference is that Ancestry.com is primarily geared towards North America, and therefore has the upper hand when it comes to North American records. However, if you’re from Europe or want more access to European records, then MyHeritage has the upper hand. And regardless of where you live, MyHeritage has the upper hand if you are Jewish.”
Is CircleDNA Good?
Surely you understand more about the five DNA tests now, but what we provided was merely information — they do not manifest user experience which is, very likely, a major concern before undergoing a DNA test. No worries, if you are thinking, “is CircleDNA good?” We have answers ready for you! No, we are not singing our own praises, these are all heartfelt words from our customers. So, is CircleDNA good? Let’s find out!
Malaysia | 23 July 2022
I feel like I’m introduce to my origin self thru Circle DNA. I’m glad to discover my body, my ancestors lineage, my ethnicity, my genetic history and the report really help me understand my health condition where I can be guided from the Health Coaches to improve and prevent my health. Everyone must explore and love one self first. Thank you CircleDNA!
U.S. | 27 June 2022
I have new found direction!
Cyprus | 12 May 2022
Great insight into your well being
Thailand | 30 March 2022
Healthier life for you and your family.
Many of my assumptions got confirmed and I know now what to eat and how to change my habits to prevent myself from early age sicknesses. Also the consulting sessions have been a great experience. Totally worth the money – no doubt!
DNA Test Comparison: Matt Baker’s Concluding Statements
Matt Baker is now ready to summarize his findings after thoroughly reviewing all 5 DNA tests. Matt discloses, “Now that I’ve discussed my DNA test comparison and gone over the 5 different DNA tests I took and reviewed, I want to provide you with a conclusion. It’s tough to say which of the 5 DNA tests I tried would be the best for you since everyone has different goals of what they want to learn and find out when they take a DNA test.
CircleDNA is hands down your best option if you’re primarily interested in health, health reports, and information about your health and wellness.
If it’s a genealogy that you’re most interested in, and you don’t care much about the health stuff, you might want one of the other DNA tests. If you’re not an expert in genetic genealogy and you’re just an average person who wants to find out some ancestry information with a basic and affordable test, go with Ancestry or MyHeritage. I’d recommend MyHeritage for anyone who is Jewish or lives outside of North America. I’d recommend Ancestry for those in Canada or America.
If you’re an expert when it comes to genetic genealogy, and you want to spend more money to get very detailed mitochondrial and Y-DNA reports, you’ll want to go with FamilyTreeDNA. Now, if you’re interested in a bit of health information and ancestry information, 23andMe is a pretty good option. Once again, CircleDNA is the best option if you feel that health and wellness reports are most important in a DNA test.”
If you go to https://circledna.com/ and use Matt Baker’s discount code MATTB33, you can get 33% off your CircleDNA kit. Cheers to a healthier you, and to get to know yourself better.